By Patrick Vecchio
A lot of music fans—a lot—lost sight of Jack Bruce after Cream disbanded. That’s too bad, because he has had one of the most prolific careers in rock since then, not to mention jazz and other genres. The list of virtuoso musicians he has played with is endless, as is the list of bassists he has influenced. No small number of people who know their ways around their fretboards claim Bruce is the best rock bassist ever.
On this blog, I take shots at older musicians who keep performing in public well past their primes. Well, Jack Bruce is 69, and he’s still got it. He’s lost a bit of the top end of that magnificent voice, but as a bassist, he remains head-shakingly unparalleled.
The album pictured above is a $7 download from several online vendors. It’s worth every penny. He doesn’t simply play verbatim versions of his work. I’m listening as I type this to “Spoonful,” covered by Cream on Wheels of Fire. This version is laden with horns and includes a trombone solo. Trombone? Spoonful? You bet.
On their debut album in 1970, the band Mountain covered a Jack Bruce song, “Theme from an Imaginary Western,” and made it their own. In fact, it probably was Mountain’s best song ever. The vocals of Felix Pappalardi, who had produced Cream, and the fat, tasty guitar of Leslie West were perfect for their harder version of Bruce’s song (from his 1969 solo debut, “Songs for a Tailor”).
On his “Big Blues Band” CD, though, Bruce reclaims the song, and it is a stunning thing to hear. If you’re a fan of Cream and the classic rock genre, buy this album. It will not disappoint.